Boy left in hot car because of COVID-19 fears


A mother of one who left her seven-year-old son in her car while she went grocery shopping has claimed she left the child unattended for his own safety.

The mother, 44, who cannot be named to protect the identity of the child, went shopping at Stockland Shopping Centre on March 21 this year.

The Townsville Magistrates Court heard Stockland security staff were doing patrols of the K-mart carpark when a security officer noticed a screaming child in the back of a car.

It was observed by the officer that the car doors and the windows were closed and the vehicle was only partially parked underneath a shade cloth.

Police prosecutor Cody Rowe told Magistrate Ken Taylor the security guard opened the rear door and observed "hot air hitting the child in the face".

"The child's skin was red and hot to touch … the child was escorted into the shopping centre to cool down and was given water," he said.

CCTV camera footage obtained by the police showed the mother leave her son in the car at 3.32pm before returning to the vehicle at 4.03pm.

The court heard the child was removed from the vehicle at 3.59pm.

Mr Rowe said the mother soon approached security to find her son who refused to have paramedics assess her child.

The mother pleaded guilty to leaving a child under 12 unattended.

Defence barrister Madonna Hayes said her client had left her son in the car during the outbreak of coronavirus due to his asthma and respiratory issues.

"She was concerned by taking him to the public space of the shopping centre, it would expose him to the virus," she said.

"The information to the public was it was a highly infectious disease and she felt she was doing the right thing leaving the child alone with the window down and with water."

Magistrate Ken Taylor fined the mother $400. A conviction was not recorded.

Originally published as Boy left in hot car because of COVID-19 fears